Sacred Harp Australia

Shape Note Resources & Singings ~ All Welcome

Australian Convention

We are delighted to announce the 6th Australian Sacred Harp Convention will be held in Victoria in January 2024.

We would love to welcome you and sing with you!

Dates: Friday 26 January to Sunday 28 January 2024

More information will be provided over the coming months. For updates, keep an eye on this page or the Sacred Harp Melbourne Facebook page.

For enquiries, please email:

Upcoming singings

The 8th Victorian All-Day Singing will be held on Saturday 5 August 2023

Brunswick Uniting Church, Sydney Road, Brunswick, Victoria.

For more information check the Sacred Harp Melbourne Facebook page or email Natalie and Shawn at

The 3rd Kyneton All-Day Singing will be held on Saturday 18 November 2023

Kyneton Mechanics Institute, Mollison Street, Kyneton, Victoria

For more information, see the Kyneton page or email Lauren at

What’s this all about?

Kevin Barrans, a singer from Washington State in the US, provides an excellent overview of Sacred Harp Singing in this video from Seattle’s Art Zone.

Quote Note

The rich multicultural history of Protestant music, which absorbed in the folk styles of each region that was converted, is reflected in the repertory of the Sacred Harpers. There is the influence of John Calvin and the 1539 Genevan Psaltery and of the brilliant Scots psalmodists later in the sixteenth century, where unison and heterophony were fostered; of the musical reformers of the Anglican service; of the radical Methodists, like John and Charles Wesley, who brought many British folk and popular tunes into the hymnals by setting religious words to them; and, all-pervasive, of the Baptists, who led the way in the popular religious revivals in Britain and America and thus introduced many folk tunes and much folksy singing into the church.

From White Spirituals from the Sacred Harp, by Alan Lomax

Quote note

“At a point, in the peaking rush of all that harmony, with so many bold, rushing voices around me, it seemed that not just we, but the song itself began to sing! It seemed to just catch fire and burn across us.” — Buell Cobb, Like Cords Around My Heart

The hollow square

The hollow square ready to welcome singers at the  Dickson Street Space. By Meg Quinlisk (Sydney Shapenote Singers).
The hollow square ready to welcome singers at the Dickson Street Space. By Meg Quinlisk (Sydney Shapenote Singers).

Quote note

“Nothing is weirder than Sacred Harp. Its favored subject matter–the pilgrim, the grave, Christ’s blood–is stark; its style–severe fourths and otherworldly open fifths–has been obsolete for more than a century. Its notation, in which triangles, circles and squares indicate pitch, looks like cuneiform. Yet it exudes power and integrity. Five people sound like a choir; a dozen like a hundred.” — David Van Biema, Give Me That Old-Time Singing, Time Magazine 2008

Quote note

“My music teacher offered twittering madrigals and something about how, in Italy, in Italy, the oranges hang on the tree. He treated me – the humiliation of it – as a soprano.

These, by contrast, are the six elements of a Sacred Harp alto: rage, darkness, motherhood, earth, malice, and sex. Once you feel it, you can always do it. You know where to go for it, though it will cost you.”
Mary Rose O’Reilley, The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd

Welcome to the Australian Sacred Harp community


We’re excitedly working towards this becoming a portal for information about singing Sacred Harp and other sources of shape note music in Australia.

If you are coordinating singings in Australia and would like to include your information, or  if you would like more information please contact Elaena Gardner.

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